Mayoral candidate does U-turn after controversial comments on homeless

Popular Party hopeful Esperanza Aguirre announces plans to open more shelters in Madrid

Popular Party mayoral candidate Esperanza Aguirre.
Popular Party mayoral candidate Esperanza Aguirre.Luca Piergiovanni (EFE)

Esperanza Aguirre, the Popular Party’s candidate for Madrid mayor, has said that if elected she will build more homeless shelters to meet demand and offer more protected housing for families without accommodation in the capital.

Her proposal, made during a visit to social services center on Wednesday, comes in the wake of the controversy stirred up by comments she made on Monday in which she said she wanted to sweep the homeless off the streets to help tourism.

Opposition parties were swift to react, accusing Aguirre of being insensitive to the needs of those forced to sleep rough.

Aguirre, who is also the leader of the Popular Party in the Madrid region, is including the measure in her social services program for the May elections, which also includes measures to fight discrimination and human trafficking, and to support the elderly.

Aguirre also plans to offer more protected housing for families without accommodation in the capital

She emphasized that those on the streets who did not wish to go to shelters would be free to remain outdoors, but only after they had been offered and made aware about available help.

She also underscored on Wednesday that at no moment had her comments referred to beggars.

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